• Best Practices New Normal
  • Digital Dentistry
  • Data Security
  • Implants
  • Catapult Education
  • COVID-19
  • Digital Imaging
  • Laser Dentistry
  • Restorative Dentistry
  • Cosmetic Dentistry
  • Periodontics
  • Oral Care
  • Evaluating Dental Materials
  • Cement and Adhesives
  • Equipment & Supplies
  • Ergonomics
  • Products
  • Dentures
  • Infection Control
  • Orthodontics
  • Technology
  • Techniques
  • Materials
  • Emerging Research
  • Pediatric Dentistry
  • Endodontics
  • Oral-Systemic Health

Proposed Bill Would Cap Non-Economic Damages in Liability Cases


Malpractice suits are one of the contributors to rising health care spending, which reached 17.8 percent in 2015. New legislation recently passed by the House hopes to put a limit on how much patients, including those with permanent damages as a result of malpractice, can win in court. While doctors, including dentists, can benefit from this potential protection, opponents argue it comes at too great a cost to patients. Read on to find out more about the new bill.

New health care legislation could be good news to doctors, but potentially harmful to patients affected by malpractice

A new bill is drawing widespread support from physician groups nationwide. H.R. 1215, or the Protecting Access to Care Act of 2017, would allow individual states’ non-economic damage caps to prevail, provided they are already in place in the state in which a malpractice lawsuit is filed.

The bill, set to be voted on by the U.S. House of Representatives in coming weeks, would set a cap on non-economic damages, like those that cause permanent physical disability to a patient, including disfigurement and pain and suffering, at a $250,000 maximum limit for any healthcare-related lawsuit. This stipulation includes suits involving dentists.

RELATED: More Coverage on

  • New Study Reveals Causes of Early Childhood Caries
  • Physical And Mental Disability As Co-Morbid Conditions in a Disability Claim
  • Creating Your Own Pension Using an Economist-Recommended Method

One group, the American College of Physicians (ACP), has suggested adding language to the legislation that would cap damages at $250,000, regardless of individual state laws. One state, California, has had this damage cap in place since 1975, and many tout it as a success.

In addition to the proposed damage cap, the bill would also:

  • Set a new statute of limitations for filing malpractice lawsuits. A patient would only have three years after the date of the initial injury, or one year after the patient discovers, or should have discovered, the injury.
  • Abolish a rule known as the collateral source rule, which specifies the damages a plaintiff receives cannot be reduced because of payments they receive for their injury or disability from another party, such as worker’s compensation.
  • Ban joint and several liability in successful malpractice lawsuits. This statute makes each individual defendant in a case responsible for paying the entirety of the damage award if other defendants are unable to pay.
  • Set limits to attorney’s contingency fees in malpractice lawsuits.
  • Block lump sum jury awards to plaintiffs in successful cases.
  • Prohibit plaintiffs from naming hospitals or healthcare providers, including dentists, in lawsuits involving allegedly unsafe medications, regardless of any provider negligence in the prescription or administration of the drug.

Opponents of the bill claim the bill itself is unfair and discriminatory to injured patients.

“This bill would limit the legal rights of injured patients and families of those killed by negligent healthcare,” a partnership of over 80 health care, legal, labor and public interest groups claimed.

“Recent studies clearly establish that its provisions would lead to more deaths and injuries, and increased healthcare costs due to a 'broad relaxation of care.’”

Initially, the House Judiciary Committee passed the bill by a vote of 18-17. The bill was then set to be voted upon in mid-June, but that vote was cancelled and has not yet been rescheduled.

Discover more Dentist’s Money Digest® news here.

Related Videos
CDA 2024 Video Interview with Kuraray Noritake's Dinesh Weerasinghe and Richard Young, DDS
Mastermind – Episode 35 – Finding Strength in Our Differences
The Uptime Health Story: An Interview with Uptime Health CEO and Co-Founder Jinesh Patel
Mastermind – Episode 34: Proactive Dentistry, Diagnostics, and Early Detection
2024 Dental Products Report Spring Selection Bracket Reveal Video
Process of Care Workflow and Repairing Early Caries with Guided Enamel Remineralization
Addressing Unmet Needs in Early Childhood Oral Care - an interview with Ashlet Lerman, DDS
Mastermind Episode 33 – Charting the Course for the Future of Dentistry
CDS 2024 Midwinter Meeting – Interview with Debbie Zafiropoulos, who discusses a trio of new infection control products from Armis Biopharma.
2024 Chicago Dental Society Midwinter Meeting – Interview with Peter Maroon, business development and sales lead at Spectrum Solutions® on the new salivary diagnostic test, SimplyPERIO.
© 2024 MJH Life Sciences

All rights reserved.